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E-M:/ Environmental Group Supports New Biofuels Recommendations Released Today in Lansing

Below is the Ecology Center's press release regarding the Renewable Fuels Commission recommendations that were announced today.  You can also check out the story and editorial that ran in the Free Press:


For Immediate Release
Contact: Claudette Juska, 734-761-3186 x118

Environmental Group Supports New Biofuels Recommendations Released Today in Lansing

Michigan Legislature and Governor Must Now Take Lead in Establishing State as Renewable Fuels Leader

Ann Arbor, MI (June 21, 2007) – The Ecology Center applauds recommendations released today by the Michigan Renewable Fuels Commission, a group appointed last year by the governor to investigate and recommend strategies to promote renewable fuels in the state.

Renewable fuels hold great potential to reduce CO2 and other harmful vehicle emissions, while increasing local investment, income and jobs in Michigan.  The recommendations released today include several measures that, if enacted, would help move Michigan toward a leadership role on climate and energy issues, and at the same time boost Michigan’s agricultural and manufacturing sectors.  The Ecology Center urges Governor Granholm and the state legislature to act quickly to implement the report recommendations. 

“Renewable fuels have an important role to play in reducing the state’s reliance on foreign oil, curbing greenhouse gas emissions, and growing a robust agricultural sector,” stated Charles Griffith, Auto Project Director at the Ecology Center and member of the state Commission.  “The Commission’s report spells out an approach for doing this in an environmentally-sound way, by tying incentives for new crops and production processes to standards for sustainability and to low-carbon approaches.” 

The Ecology Center highlighted three key recommendations that will help to encourage the development of an environmentally-sound renewable fuels industry in the state.  These include:
1) development of a Low-Carbon Fuel Strategy for renewable fuels;
2) establishment of a Next-Generation Renewable Fuels Feedstock Program; and
3) creation of a Green Retailers program for encouraging renewable fuel retail sales.

Low-Carbon Fuels Strategy
A “Low Carbon Fuels” approach would require that an increasing amount of low carbon fuels – such as ethanol from agricultural  “wastes,” perennial grasses and trees – be sold in the state.  This approach would go a long way toward growing the market for new cellulosic fuels, which hold the most promise for reducing green house gas emissions and gasoline usage.  The recommendation calls on Governor Granholm to initiate the development of a low-carbon fuels program for Michigan.

Next-Generation Renewable Fuels Feedstock Program
In order to speed up production of new feedstocks for low carbon fuels, incentives are needed to help farmers transition to growing next-generation energy crops.  A comprehensive package listed in the recommendations includes payments to landowners and operators that produce dedicated energy crops in sustainable agronomic systems; tax incentives or loan guarantees for the purchase of new equipment; and research and technical assistance on sustainable energy crop production. 

Green Retailers Program
To ensure a growing market for renewable fuels, establishment of a fueling infrastructure for E85 and biodiesel is needed in the state. In addition to increased incentives for installation of new renewable fuel pumps, the Commission also recommends a “Green Retailer” program that would reward retail and wholesale outlets that sell a certain percentage of renewable fuels.

The Ecology Center emphasizes the need for additional measures that maximize environmental performance at every step – including feedstock production, fuel production and distribution.  These requirements are essential for ensuring public benefits, such as biodiversity, soil and water conservation, and clean air.  Additionally, the Center supports standards that would forbid production of energy crops on environmentally sensitive lands or the conversion of natural ecosystems that protect biodiversity and capture CO2.

The Ecology Center also points out that renewable fuels are not the single answer to our transportation energy needs.  Improving vehicle fuel efficiency and reducing personal vehicle travel demand are also essential if there is to be any real progress in reducing energy use in the transportation sector. 

For more information about the Renewable Fuels Commission and to see the full list of recommendations, visit: http://www.renewablefuelscommission.org/

The Ecology Center is a Michigan-based environmental organization that works for a safe and healthy environment where people live, work and play.  For more information, visit: http://www.ecocenter.org/

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